Giant Trance X 29 Introduction

by FatBob on January 26, 2013

The Giant Trance X1 is Giant Bicycles 29er trail bike and it is a new model for 2013. This 120 mm Maestro suspension equipped bike has all the goods to make it ride with the best. This style of 29er bike is what I recommend for most riders because it is practical and fun for going anywhere and doing anything that most mountain bikers will ride on public, multi use trails. This type of bike is efficient enough to be ridden all day, while giving ample comfort. Bikes like this are built strong, have reliable components, and the geometry that is relaxed enough to allow the rider to get immersed in the trail rather than micromanage the ride. Of course, with Giant’s reputation for quality, performance and value, I am very happy to have the opportunity to ride the Trance X29 platform, and see how it measures up. Let’s talk about some key features.

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The Giant Trance X1 is the mid tier bike in Giant’s “performance trail “ category. The Trance X0 retails for $4,250, the X1 retails for $2,775 and the X2 retails for $1,925. In addition, Giant sells the frame only option for $1,550. Of particular note, is the fact it comes in a huge size range from the XS 14.5 inch frame to the XL 22 inch frame. Most riders should not have a hard time fitting a Trance X29 frame. Claimed weights for the frame are sub 6 pounds (5.89 LBS claimed) for a size medium, which, in its travel range and intended use, is one of the lightest aluminium frames on the market.

The frame is an ALUXX SL aluminium frame. This is Giant’s high end aluminium. The use of Hydroforming is abundant, and reminded me why so many companies move production to Asian factories. For how intricate the hydroforming  is, the prices are still very reasonable. The weld quality is very good, from an outward appearance. I appreciate that the welds were not ground down. For some reason, it makes me feel that a company has nothing to hide.  The headtube deviates from the now standard tapered steer tube to what Giant Calls “OverDrive 2” This is a tapered steer tube standard, but instead of a 1 ⅛ to 1 ½ taper, Giant uses a 1 ¼ to 1 ½ tapered steer tube. They do this because they can produce a lighter, stronger headtube while stiffening the front end for better steering precision. Interestingly, creating a new standard in steer tubes and emphasizing the stiffness of the new system, Giant still chose to use a 32mm stanchion Fox 32 float fork instead of a Fox 34. More than likely, this is to save weight and keep the cost down.

The Fork is a 120mm Fox Float 29  CTD. It is the Evolution series, which is Fox Forks’ least expensive fork line. The ones we have used in the past perform well and it is very competitive for the price point of the bike.

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For a full size picture please look at the gallery below

Our test bike comes with a dropper post with 4 inches of drop. The Giant Contact seatpost is a nice feature, and really a must have on a trail bike. The details are very welcome at the controls. There is a flexible metal piece (noodle) that connects the remote with the cable. It is a step above what we have seen on other remote dropper posts. There is a little bit of side to side play, but not very much compared to other dropper posts we have experience with. It can be dropped in any position in its travel range, which I really prefer after using fixed position models on other bikes. While it is mechanical as opposed to hydraulic, infinitely adjustable on a $2,775 bike is an excellent feature. Unfortunately, the bike is a medium and the Contact post is too short for me to use, so I will have to rely on the testers to report their impressions to me. The little bit I have ridden it, despite the low saddle height, allowed me to get an impression, but no more.

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four inch infinite drop, cable actuated, remote lever

Other cockpit parts are Giant’s house branded parts. The stem on our medium frame is 90 mm length with a  6 degree rise. Realistically, it is a stem, it works and, with a couple of spacers, it should be easy to find a comfortable riding position, as far as the height or drop of the front end. My only reservation is that you will have to buy a Giant stem as they are the only company I know of that makes a 1 ¼ stem. Hopefully, your LBS stocks a variety of stem lengths so you can fine tune your fit  without any aggravation or waiting. Giant’s Connect SL handle bars are a generous 730 mm wide with a low 19 mm rise. They are exactly what I like, with a wide grip, low rise, and comfortable sweep and flair. Handle bar width is a preference issue but I definitely recommend you try them. They are aluminium so they can easily be trimmed down.  Grips are a lock on and are comfortable enough.

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Brakes are Avid’s Elixer 3. None of us here at 29eronline care for Avid brakes. Still, they are powerful and offer good modulation, They are appropriate for the price point and overall component group of the bike. The rear rotor is a 160 mm the front is a 180 mm. If you live in the Rocky Mountains and push hard on the descents, you may want a bigger rear rotor. I have ridden multiple mile downhills, and still choose to run a 160mm rotor. I find the modulation to be a little better than with larger rotors. If you use your front brake effectively, you probably won't have a problem with the 160mm rear rotor.

The drive train is an SRAM X7 group with an X9 rear derailleur and X5 cranks (essentially). With a pressfit bottom bracket, the group feels stiff and shifts well enough. It has a 2x10 crankset with a low 24 and a high 38 tooth ring. I find this to be plenty low. Our test crew, across the board, prefers 2x10 drivetrains and I have been getting complaints about the couple of 3x10 drive trains we have. The 2x10 gear range seems to offer plenty of gear ratios for our east Coast trails, so this spec is a plus in our book. We will be paying attention to the durability and ride quality as we ride the bike. The X7 parts are reliable and the price is right. While a little heavy, they are practical  and work well. The X9 rear derailleur is a new clutch model. This should alleviate chain slap as well as losing the chain in rough terrain. This is a practical upgrade, and justifiable over a non clutch X7 unit. Overall, a nice package that will work well for an intermediate rider.

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SRAM X9 rear type 2 rear derailleur

Wheels: The Rims are Giant’s house brand. They are a double wall alloy rim. The hubs run on sealed bearings and come with a 15 mm qr front axle. It is nice to see DT Swiss Competition double butted spokes included in this wheel build. If you want to set the wheels up tubeless, you will have to buy an aftermarket kit. While I will admit the sticker kit on the rims is not my favorite, the actual wheel seems competitive for its price point. It will take time and riding to see how they hold up to determine if the wheels are a good spec or not. In our final review I will address this.

Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Tubeless ready evolution casings. Nice spec -not much more to say here beyond the fact that it is a good, aggressive, mid weight tire. There is no need to consider changing the tires for almost any condition that single track will offer.

The real highlight of the Giant Trance X 29 is the Maestro suspension. It has 4 pivots on 2 short linkages. There is a great deal of tunability in these types of suspension designs. It promises to both pedal and brake neutrally, even under hard efforts. This is good, as the suspension should react very little to your pedaling, which frees it up to work on the terrain under you. My initial rides have shown this to be true, even without setting the shock into trail mode. The Giant has lively acceleration. If you look down at the shock, there is a very little movement when you pedal with even a modest amount of form.

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4-2-1 Concept, Maestro Suspension 4 Pivots, 2 links and one single floating pivot point

The same attributes above apply to the braking. Giant’s claim of neutral braking allows for more control under hard braking. The wheel is freed up to react to the ground, keeping the tires in contact longer
and increasing stopping ability.  We need to spend more time pushing the bike in these situations to make definitive statements but, so far, the Trance X 29 is impressive.

From here the Giant needs significant trail time before I can comment more, or bring in the views of the 29erOnline test crew. This Giant was a bike that was a must have for testing this season. It has a travel range that we prefer, it is light, and has the geometry we have found offers the most fun and versatility. In addition, at its price point, Giant’s bikes provide some of the best value to performance on the market. What's not to like? We plan on trying our best to find out. I have a feeling it won't be much.

Giant Trance x 29

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